Demand for cosmetic surgeries is changing conversations around it

Some of the shame around cosmetic procedures may be lifting, thanks to more people accessing them and more willingness to talk openly about them.

Social media may be leading to an openness to discuss procedures

Dr. Donna Jubin of Bella Sante Medical Cosmetic and Laser Clinic in Saskatoon holds open a book showing faces for a customer.

Ashley Quick broke her nose twice as a child, leaving it wider and more crooked than it might have been.

For years the Saskatoon sports nutrition consultant went back and forth between trying to embrace it and contemplating surgery to adjust it.

She finally decided to have a rhinoplasty about two years ago. Now she wonders what took her so long.

"If I would have known how it would impact my life now, I would have done it 10 years ago," she said.

Sports nutritionist Ashley Quick smiles.

For decades, a lot of the public conversation about cosmetic procedures, such as Botox or dermal fillers, was driven by pop culture. For example, characters in TV shows and movies would make fun of someone who couldn't move their face after receiving Botox.

Watch a clip from the movie Just Go With It (2011), where a character is mocked for having a cosmetic procedure:

Now some of the shame associated with these procedures may be dissipating, thanks to more people accessing them and more willingness to talk openly about them.

Holly Decker has become quite familiar with cosmetic procedures over the past few decades.

The professional makeup artist from Saskatoon has been in the business for around 20 years. Over that time she has worked on countless faces. She said she's seen an increase in cosmetic treatments, especially Botox and dermal fillers.

"I think more so in the last 10 years, and then very much so – and I'd say a lot more of it – in the last five."

In the past, she said, people who got a treatment like Botox would pretend they weren't.

"What I'm loving now is that people are more open to talking about things that they're doing and sharing information," she said. "I think that education on this is the most important component."

Holly Decker is a makeup artist in Saskatoon. She poses standing, smiling with a hand on her hip.

While there isn't recent reliable Canadian data available, there is evidence from the U.S. about the new popularity of these treatments.

Data from a survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) sent out in June 2022 to doctors with cosmetic practices tracked trends in the industry following the height of the pandemic in the U.S.

The survey found that more than three-quarters of respondents reported increased demand for cosmetic procedures compared to pre-pandemic levels, with some practices reporting that business had doubled.

The top surgical procedure reported was liposuction, and the most common minimally invasive procedure was Botox, followed by soft tissue fillers.

Some of the reasons behind the demand included patients not traveling as much during the pandemic and using travel budgets for procedures, people seeing themselves constantly on zoom, and the desire to feel good and more confident following the pandemic, according to the survey results.

Societal pressure still an issue

The reasons why so many people, especially women, are seeking out cosmetic procedures are as relevant as ever. Many point to ageism and the pressure to appear youthful, like Madonna did after being described as "unrecognizable" after a recent appearance at the Grammys.

"I think the pressure on women for aging and the anti-aging market that is out there is insane," said Decker, the makeup artist.

"I do think it can be a problem if people get to a point that they're doing this for the wrong reasons, for other people and not for themselves."

Social media might also play a role, according to a psychology professor at Dalhousie University who studies the impact of cosmetic procedures.

Simon Sherry said that we constantly compare ourselves to others. Sometimes we compare ourselves to people who are less fortunate, but often we look up to people who are better off.

On social media, people compare themselves unrealistically to younger people, to models, and to airbrushed or digitally altered images.

Sherry said there's a reason we yearn to be attractive.

"It may be distasteful, but you could argue that humans form rank orders based on certain characteristics, and one of those characteristics can be the degree to which you are attractive," he said.

Some people "drink in" those ideals to a degree that becomes toxic, he said, while others are more critical and less likely to internalize them.

Sherry said people who are perfectionist and narcissistic may not be good candidates for cosmetic procedures, as they are often incredibly self-critical and may spiral out of control.

People with body dysmorphic disorder — an imagined or subjective sense of ugliness — also are unlikely to benefit from procedures, according to Sherry.

Potential upside to cosmetic procedures

While not everyone is a good candidate for cosmetic procedures, Sherry said his research has revealed there can be clear benefits.

People who undergo cosmetic surgery often feel increased self esteem, he said.

"Beyond that, and this is noteworthy, other people often feel more positive about a person after they've received a cosmetic surgical procedure."

The more positively people perceive you, the more positive opportunities could arise for you, he said.

Dr. Donna Jubin considers those positive changes the most important thing about her job. She's the owner, founder and medical director of Bella Sante Cosmetic and Laser Clinic in Saskatoon.

"Your face is something that you wear every day. Everybody sees that," Jubin said. "When you feel confident with your skin when you look in the mirror — whether it's your face or your body — it builds confidence."

Jubin said the clinic will turn people away if they are taking procedures too far, but at the same time she thinks it's time to do away with the shame sometimes associated with cosmetic procedures.

"I don't think any of us should judge another human being for what it is that creates insecurities for them," she id. "You never know where that person's come from."

One thing most people agree on is that you should do your homework before making changes, big or small.

"Just make sure that you make smart choices," said sports nutritionist Ashley Quick.

"Ask the right questions, and put yourself in the best hands."


Candice Lipski is an associate producer based in Saskatoon. She holds a Master of Journalism degree from UBC. Follow her on Twitter @Candice_Lipski or send her a story idea at

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